December 31, 2009

Finance: What Every HR Professional Must Know

Yesterday, I had a great session on the above mentioned topic during the NHRD meeting in Chennai. The speaker, V Ramesh, Sr Vice President & CFO, Carborundum Universal explained the relevance of many finance concepts that should be understood and leveraged by HR professionals. One such concept that has fascinated me a lot is 'Time value of money'. It's incredibly important for an HR professional to recognize and understand such a concept especially when the HR team is fixing a VRS scheme for it's associate. Well!!! VRS scheme is just one of the many instances when a concept like 'time value of money' becomes very important.

He also mentioned the need to develop HR metrics in 4 essential areas[taking the example of Genpact]:

1. Growth
2. Retention[attrition by tenure,level,location,business; early attrition %,cost per hire etc]
3.Employee Engagement[Survey Response Rate etc]
4. People Cost

I particularly loved the Q&A session the most. An expected question on why there is a kind of loggerhead between HR & Finance was raised. I was quite convinced with the answer when Mr Ramesh said that HR should build the case in a better and logical manner. A classic example is that of a few revered companies that pay higher salary to their employees when compared to other companies in the industry. Well!!! one of the reason for this possibility is that the HR team in such organizations helps the associates to create greater value for the business, which allows the finance team to pay better salary to all it's associates. This basically means that Finance and HR have to take co-ownership for fixing the pay package of it's associates with equal interest.

One of the example of HR helping the associates creating greater value for business is by setting up lazor sharp KRAs for the associates.

Another interesting question raised was on what are the parameters considered in a variable pay????

One of the important point to be kept in mind in such a context is that the variable pay should be fixed not on a relatively permanent basis but on the basis of what the business wants to achieve in that financial year.

Rancho's views on Human Resource Management...

I watched the bollywood movie '3 idiots' today. A truly fantastic experience.I especially loved the character of Rancho played by Aamir Khan. I could relate with the character. Rancho is a witty engineering student who is truly passionate about machines and applies his theoretical knowledge in as many real life opportunities as possible. He doesn't chase high paid placement offers or an American dream. He wants to pursue excellence alone. He is passionate about people especially his friends and can go to any extent to help them in the most dire situations. He is also an impractical optimist who turns impractical possibilities into practical realities.

No wonder, I am influenced and inspired by the character. So I am attempting to post Rancho's views on managing people if he was a real character with strong and sincere opinion on HR issues.

Here it goes:

1. Finding out your employee's true passion in the business is worth it. Set him free and have faith in him.

2. Ensure that your employees do not turn cynical and always try to preserve their goodness.

3. Be there for your employees in their good times as well as bad times.

4. Be a constant learner and strive towards contributing towards the future of your domain.

5. Know what is right for people first and then for business. That's the only way to be the best business partner.

6. Help to fulfill your employee's dream by empowering them and they would empower your business.

7. Know your self priorities but try to be as selfless as possible. HR is a tough domain because of this reason but it is beautiful because of the same reason too.

8. Be candid about your opinion on people and business. But try not hurting others' sentiments in the process. Be sensitive.

9. Put theory knowledge in practice wherever possible.

10. Be an impractical optimist. At times, it is the most practical thing in business.

11. Whenever in self doubt or problem, say to yourself 'All izzzzzzzzzzz welllll' ... It might not solve your problem but it would give you the courage to find the solution...

December 26, 2009

Marina Beach: 5 years after Tsunami....

It's five years since Tsunami struck in the Indian Coastline. It's also five years approximately since I came to Chennai. 26th December 2004 was a day of despair and immense pain. It was a day when nature showed it's ugly side.

We never searched for the answer as to why nature did so.

Maybe we were too consumed in the pain we got inflicted with.....
Maybe we were too busy with our prayers....

Today early morning I went for a jog in the Marina Beach. It appeared calm and pristine.

Did it appear the same way moments before Tsunami struck five years back?

Did one of the Tsunami victim feel the same way moments before Tsunami struck as I felt today morning?

Well!!! the pics above have been clicked by me this early morning.

December 24, 2009

HR lesson from Chetan Bhagat

Firstly, Merry Christmas!!!!!!

I was reading this article about Chetan Bhagat which appeared in Forbes India website. While reading it, I found a simple yet very powerful HR lesson.

Consider the following para from the article:
'When it came to taking a summer project, he didn’t want to do “anything hardcore.” There was a placement at Cadburys that no one else wanted, and he leapt at it: “Two months in Lonavala! Chocolates!” His project, to fix a wrapping machine that was supposed to do 250 chocolate lollipops a minute, but was only doing 75. He puzzled over it, but didn’t crack it. One night, he bumped into the foreman, a veteran of the place. Rather than go eat alone in the executive canteen, he went along with him to the worker’s canteen. They talked for three hours, about the man’s life, his children, his struggles. The next day, the wrapping machine was miraculously performing at full capacity. The foreman told him that he’d worked there ten years, he knew the machine inside-out. Until then, “No one heard me. You did. I had to make your project successful.”

It emphasizes on the power of 'listening'. I am sure all the HR guys have been advised to be great listeners at one point of their learning curve. We all recognize it's importance and respect it. However, I feel the above mentioned incident with Chetan Bhagat can be a good reminder to us if we are at the risk of forgetting this basic quality of being a great listener.

I am aware of a few friends working for extremely reputed firms who had to quit their company because the HR did not have enough time to listen to them.

In such a scenario, either we should improve the listening skills of such HR associates or hire a few more HR associates in case the company feels they are already blessed with great listening skills.

Bottom line : No compromise when it comes to knowing the pulse of your associates!!!!

How a HR Manager would write a love letter.

I received a forwarded mail from a friend on 'How a HR Manager would write a love letter.' Here it goes:

Grade 7.0 S.M

Sub: Offer of love!

Ref: Meeting in a seminar

Dearest Ms Juliet,

I am pleased to inform you that I have fallen in love with you since the 14th of October (Saturday). With reference to the meeting held between us on the 13th of Oct. at 1500 hrs, would like to present myself as a prospective lover.

Our love affair would be on probation for a period of three months and depending on compatibility, would be made permanent. Of course, upon completion of probation, there will be continuous on the job training and performance appraisal schemes leading up to promotion from lover to spouse.

The expenses incurred for coffee and entertainment would initially be shared equally between us. Later, based on your performance, I might take up a larger share of the expenses. However I am broadminded enough to be taken care of, on your expense account.

I request you to kindly respond within 3 days of receiving this letter, failing which, this offer would be cancelled without further notice and I shall be considering someone else.

I would be happy, if you could forward this letter to your collegue if you do not wish to take up this offer.

Wish you all the best!

Thanking you in anticipation,

Yours sincerely,
HR Manager
A BC Co. Pvt. Ltd

December 21, 2009

A fascinating interaction with an Indian Army Officer!!!

I am not shy of interacting with strangers anywhere. This habit has often helped me to make new friends and have scintillating conversations with them.

I have added one more person in my friend list today. He is a Major in the Indian Army and was sitting next to me during a book reading event which we attended. He appeared to be a simple man completely engrossed in his book. We reached the venue pretty early. It made sense to start a conversation and we greeted each other. Then I came to know that he is an Indian Army officer, a Major.

I have a lot of respect for the Indian Army for many reasons. However, let me mention two of the multiple reasons. Firstly, I wanted to join the Indian Army but could not because of personal reasons [I love the phrase 'personal reasons'. It makes justifications so easy ;-) ]. Secondly, I have met many great HR professional who are ex Army officers.

My conversation with him ranged from how he got into the prestigious National Defence Academy, his training, the Kargil War, his Shaurya Chakra and even HR [how can I miss that :-)].

He told me how supportive his parents and siblings were while joining the armed forces. In a way I feel we civilians must thank every parents of the Indian Armed forces officers and jawans for being so supportive and encouraging to them.

He even shared a lot about the tough training which he went through in National Defense Academy. The secret behind getting used to the training is all about conditioning one's mind. When he joined NDA, he struggled to do a few push ups but after the training of about 6 months, he could easily do 150 push ups and even run more than 15 kms per day. I particularly liked a statement where he mentioned that the body listens to the mind and it is even more important to train the mind than the body.

The most fascinating part of the conversation was about his fight with the enemies during the Kargil War. He had even shot at a few enemies. I could not help in resisting myself from asking him how he felt when he shot at the enemy. I thought that it was an insensitive question from me and I wondered how he would react. He was calm and candid. He said that at the moment when he shot the enemy, he was only thinking about his duty. There were no causalities in his team. He was focused about his job and killing the enemy was his duty. However, later he came to know about the enemy's family [through the photograph I guess] and felt sad about the incident.

His bravery won him the Shaurya Chakra. I feel the Shaurya Chakra belongs to his family too who have been encouraging and supportive of him in joining the army.

He even shared a few HR lessons with me. He told me the huge relevance of motivation in the army. He shared many examples about leadership in crisis and team work.

It's interesting how the corporate world complains about economic turbulence and turmoil. On the other hand, the Indian Army gives birth to national heroes during turbulent times through bravery and outstanding professionalism that matches none in the world.

I feel the HR community has a lot to learn from the Indian Armed Forces.

Let me share a few quotes by Field Marshal Madappa Cariappa . I am sure the HR community will find these simple yet immensely powerful quotes very interesting:

  • "An officer is nothing without the soldiers."
  • "Army is there to serve the Government of the day, and we should make sure that it does not get mixed up with party politics. A soldier is above politics and should not believe in caste or creed,"
  • "an Indian and to the last breath would remain an Indian. To me there is only two Stans - Hindustan (India) and Foujistan (the Army)."

Another inspiring quote I would like to share is by Field Marshal Philip Chetwode which my new found friend shared with me:

‘The, honour and welfare of your country comes first, always and every time, the honour welfare and comfort of the men you command comes next .Your own ease, comfort and safety comes last, always and every time'

Whenever the Indian Army is at work, they live the above mentioned quotes and thats what makes them so special to all of us. They make a huge impact to our nation through their sacrifice, integrity, work ethics, discipline, bravery and much more.

If the HR community has to make a huge impact in the business then we should also have the same qualities with same intensity. Many might say that the dynamics in the Army are very different from the ones in business. Thats true but we can still learn a lot from them.

Can't we foster similar pride among our associates for their company???
Can't we enjoy better team spirit and camaraderie???
Can't we infuse better discipline and work ethics in our company???

A yes to the above three questions can make a huge difference to the business and in being a true HR professional.

And like always, a Salute to Indian Armed forces from the bottom of my heart.

December 17, 2009

Interesting inferences from SHRM India's Leadership Summit researches

The State of HR in India Research by TNS

Emerging new perspectives about HR:

  • A solid pillar in the business model, no longer just a cost center.
  • Contributions impacting bottom line and business strategy.
  • Supporting direct brand-build for business success.
  • Direct impact on immediate CSR, PR programs.
Emerging new perspectives about HR:

  • Next is what?
  • Leveraging 360 Degree individual employee potential.
  • Tapping into diversity potential.
  • Change management to change-preparedness.
  • CSR to Sustainability.
Research on LIC of India: Decoding the DNA that manages the Trust of Millions [By Noel Machado]-

Some of LIC's counter intuitive HR practices:

  • It succeeds at scale by generalizing instead of specializing.
  • It does not acquire talent laterally; instead, it retains and grows people to be entrepreneurial.
  • It not only coaches it's people top-down but importantly, also coaching it's people bottom-up.
  • People freely share knowledge-especially junior officials with senior-when they could have been 'powerful' by hoarding it.
Research on Indian Railways: Managing People in the World's Largest Employer [By Vijay Pereira]

  • Indian Railways is a self sufficient and self reliant organization- often regarded as a 'country within a country' as they have their own schools,hospitals,housing and cooperative banks. They have their own 'Railway Budget' and maintain their own security force known as the 'Railway Protection Force [RPF].
  • Attractive employment proposition-Free passes and concessional tickets to travel on all routes for IR employees and their families, definitive career progression, work-life balance,job security etc.
  • Recruitment and selection is highly formalized and transparent, leaving less scope for corruption and malpractices.
  • Training and Development is available at all levels.
  • Pay and conditions: a complex structure- The structure of emoluments and conditions of service of railway employees are reviewed periodically by Government 'Pay Commissions'. Allowances are linked to the cost of living index [Dearness Allowance]. Other allowances include night duty allowance, running allowance,house rent allowance, hill allowance,bad climate allowance etc. Employees on deputation from different zones and divisions working in the PSU's were fixed in higher grades as an incentive.
  • Employment Relations have been managed successfully for decades: No major Industrial Conflict since the historic 1974 strike.
Research on Leadership Readiness: The Next Wave [By 9.9 Media]

  • CHROs are not far behind their c-level peers and are making their presence at the CEO's partner's table and bring expertise in the strategic areas viz; global expansion, mergers & acquisitions, quality initiative and change management activities.
  • CHRO's seem to be preparing themselves for the next leadership levels.
  • CHRO's scored above average on the eight must-have attributes for top leadership positions.
  • CHRO's are actively playing a part in various management and executive committees where decision making is driven largely by consensus but CHRO's have yet to find a place for themselves on the board.
  • Only 22 % of CXO's [CFOs,CIOs and CTO's] believe that their organizations are ready to have the CHRO as part of the top leadership positions.
  • 22% of CHROs are willing to join the board, but only 9% believe they are ready.
  • CEO's value the contribution of their CHRO executives. They find CHRO's better than other C level peers on all parameters except 'insights into company's businesses'.
  • The concept of 'CHRO-plus' role is still emerging in India. CHRO-plus role refers to CHRO's emerging role.

December 14, 2009

Sky rocketing in the business- The Rocket Singh Way!!!!

It's been ages since Corporate India learned a few lessons from bollywood movies. Lagaan was infact the last movie that drew the attention of B-School junta and the corporate for learning a few management gems.

I am just back from watching Rocket Singh- Salesman of the year starring Ranbir Kapoor as the main protagonist Harpreet Singh Bedi aka Rocket Singh. He is an academic disaster with 30 something % from his B- Com Graduation exam. While his friends want him to crack the CAT exam, he recognizes his academic limitations and decides to pursue a career in sales. Thanks to the Big Boss [AYS owner] who feels that he would contribute to the balance sheet even though he was not promising in his marks sheet.

He gets a job at a sales company called AYS which is a sharp contrast to his idealistic values and work ethics.
He finds himself in a space plagued with politics, bribes, unrealistic targets, a porn addict etc. However, when he is directly confronted with bribe, he sticks to his ideals and files a complaint against the client. This doesn't go well with his bosses and he is verbally abused and given a lower profile job with strict warning.

Along with this comes humiliation from his colleagues who keep throwing paper rockets at him.

Frustrated yet motivated, he starts an underground sales business called Rocket Sales Corp without the knowledge of anyone in the company. Slowly, he ropes in few other employees and gives them equal share of profits. He uses the existing premises of the office for his business but operates in a smart and discreet manner.

His business is based on customer orientation, great service, building realationship,trust,honesty,equal share of profits and mutual respect [lets include amazing wits and risk too ;-)]. Customers are in awe of the business and sales propel to sky rocketing level

However, AYS owner comes to know about it and buys his company for Ruppee one in a rather humiliating manner.

Well!! the acquisition doesn't help much either. The liabilities increase and sales fall even further.
Rocket Singh is offered a job as Vice President- sales and told to return.

Predictably, he refuses the offer and provides the AYS owner some business gyan. It's the gyan part which completely mesmerizes me. He advises the AYS owner about making a transition from numbers[money] to people. He explains how a business is all about people and not so much about numbers.

The gyan leaves the AYS owner[including me] speechless for a few moments. Good sense prevails and AYS owner asks for a one Ruppee coin[ in a humbling manner this time ;-)] and returns the share of Rocket Singh's company back to him.

It's a movie which all the HR guys must watch and feel proud of.

One of my favorite blogger and inspiration Gautam Ghosh has also written his interesting thoughts on the movie. Check this out.

December 9, 2009

LEADERSHIP NEXT: SHRM India’s Knowledge Summit.

It's a great pleasure to inform all that I have been invited to LEADERSHIP NEXT: SHRM India’s Knowledge Summit as a Student Presenter on 11.12.2009 at Mumbai.

I would be presenting my perspective as a student on an interesting research about People Practices in Indian Railways- the world’s largest rail network and employer .

I believe it's a perfect platform to integrate one of my passion and one of my fascination.
The passion being HR and the fascination being 'Indian Railways'. My fascination about Indian Railways is deeply rooted to my early childhood days when my most sought after birthday gift used to be those battery driven mini toy trains. The fascination still remains the same but the reasons are a little different.

Today, I get fascinated about Indian Railways for the sheer fact that it manages 1.7 million employees and 1 million pensioners. It's HR practices has it's impact on such a huge number of people and their families. It has also not witnessed a single major Industrial Dispute for the past 35 years. The 'fringe benefits' & 'welfare benefits' provided to Indian Railways employees are the best. There are many more such facts that fascinates me as a budding HR.

The presentation is going to be about my innocent yet sincere perspective on the new age HR practices in the India Railways.

It is even more special as I would be blessed to share the session with Mr Vijay Pereira & Mr Dhananjay Bansod.

Mr Vijay Pereira is an expert of Indian Railways HR (and business) matters, an educator and Consultant. He has worked in Indian Railways for 7 years and hence has deep understanding of the system itself, rather than being an outside observer. He is based out of London (where he teaches at Portsmouth University. He is an alumni of IIM Ahmedabad. He is the researcher of the study.

Mr Dhananjay Bansod is the Chief People Officer for Deloitte India Ops and is above all an amazing HR professional. He’s had a range of experiences – Line, Consulting and HR and takes great joy in interacting with HR community.

December 7, 2009

HR as a soft power...

My close friends are aware of the fact that I am an ardent fan of Shri Shashi Tharoor. He stands as a mascot of ideas that are refreshing and sincere. I was watching this video which delightfully stresses on 'Why nations should pursue 'soft' power. I must say he sounds very convincing as 'almost' always.

He highlights how countries use soft power on the basis of influencing and attracting other countries through foreign policies, political values, culture etc. He emphasizes on how Alliance Francaise has made other countries more aware of the French ethos and similarly Mtv has done the same for USA. There are many such examples.

Similarly, I believe that many companies through their upmarket and spunky HR interventions have successfully left an indelible mark on the mindset of many potential employees.

A classic yet obvious example is that of Google's 'fun' culture or the 'Learning & Development' culture of HUL. So fundamentally it's the culture of the organization that has the potency of creating a massive influence on many people.

So here the potential employees are not getting attracted towards these companies primarily for the reverence which consumers accord to the products and services of those companies. It's more because of the 'soft power' influence they have on the potential employees.

At times in life we all do some great stuff without being conscious about them fully. I believe the HR fraternity in many companies have done some stupendous work yet they are not really aware of the great benefits it has fostered for their companies. May be they got overshadowed by the phenomenal strides made by the business success.

It's promising to hear about HR's role as a business partner. I completely endorse it but at the same time HR should continue to pursue the 'soft power' role and the business should appreciate that more sincerely.

Some of the best business success stories are integrally 'people success' stories and I feel it has been possible because of HR's 'soft power' role over the years.

I strongly feel that HR's transformational role is intertwined with the 'Soft power' it will exercise in the future course of time.

December 6, 2009

A simple yet fascinating categorization of employees

During a weekend dinner with a family friend yesterday, we had some very insightful conversation. The uncle is not an HR professional but has vast experience as an engineer and has strong opinion on varied subjects.

He was reminiscing about how much interest his leadership team took in him during his initial days in the plant. His face was suffused with joy as he continued speaking about the amount of autonomy they used to enjoy at the plant level. According to him the scenario has changed. Diffidence has crept in the minds of new age leaders towards their subordinates and even towards themselves.

Well!!! I must confess that I did not provide any point of view as I was too occupied listening to my uncle.

However this post is not about what I have written above. It's rather about a simple yet fascinating categorization of employees he shared with us.

It's called the A,B,C categorization. It's as follows:

A: Apna[hindi word for 'myself']- These employees are a classic example of self obsessed employees. They are not bothered about the company neither the peers,subordinates and superior. Or rather I would correct myself by saying that these employees might be concerned about the peers, subordinates and superiors only if they can serve or facilitate his self interest and purpose.

B: Boss- Well!!! I am sure we all have met this specie. They are the ones concerned more about their boss's interest, purpose and vision than the company's vision. The funny part is that their commitment towards the boss transcends the boundaries of their boss's professional life. He might even agree to dedicate his time and energy to fulfill the boss's dog's purpose.

C: Company- Even the Gallup Survey reveals that not many employees fall under this category. In other words they are the actively engaged employees. They are the ones who dedicate their professional life for the company and it's purpose.

MSSW shines at HR Vista 09

Madras School of Social Work continued it's winning momentum during HR Vista 2009- A National Study Conference on 'HR Challenges-Post Recession' held at Women's Christian College on 4th December 2009.

MA-HRM Department won the first prize and the third prize[it was shared by 2 teams from MSSW jointly] in the paper presentation competition. The first prize winners made a presentation on HR Outsourcing and it's tremendous opportunities. A very well deserved win which comprised of an indepth study done by the team that included various companies and their perspective about HRO[both supply and demand perspective].

My team that comprised of yours truly :-), Lijo Jacob and Shruthi Thomas won the third prize in the paper presentation on the topic 'Managing transition from Transactional HR to Transformational HR'.

We divided our presentation in three parts where we first explained the concept of transformation in the HR context, followed by the road blocks in the transition and finally the road map of the transition.

The third prize was shared by another impressive team from MSSW. So out of the 4 prizes, 3 were won by MSSW.

In the best manager event also we took the limelight as three of our student including me :-) have reached the final round that takes place this week. Wish us good luck :-)

November 29, 2009

Thanks a lot :-)

It's been more than 2 years of blogging. In the process I have learnt quite a bit and made new friends who continue to inspire me. But the biggest propeller to continue blogging is something else.

I must admit that it feels humbling and empowering when friends start blogging and acknowledge that I had a little influence on them.

Two of my close friends, Arvind Srikantan and Ria Dua have started blogging. They both are brilliant, passionate and keen observers.

Check out their blogs!!!! [Click on their names appearing at the top to know more about their posts].

Now thats called 'employee engagement'!!!!!!!

A close friend of mine was narrating a fascinating incident which happened with him during an employee engagement survey he conducted in one of the most prominent hotel in India.

When he went to the Chief Chef to get his questionnaire filled, he found the Chef extremely occupied in his work. The Chef in a polite manner told him to sit and wait for a few minutes. He continued his work with lazor sharp focus. My friend witnessed the entire dish getting processed from it's raw state into a visually appealing appetizing dish. The smell of the alluring aroma filled the air, now teasing his nostrils. Little did he realize that it was beyond an hour since he was seated there.

Suddenly, good sense prevailed and he reminded the Chef to fill the questionnaire. The Chef offered him a few cookies saying that he must be hungry and left to wash his hand.

After he came back, he keenly went through the first few questions and told my friend to fill it himself.

My friend was puzzled.Well!!!! It was justified as he had wasted over an hour and now did not want to fill the questionnaire.

He was on the verge of getting riled up but then the Chef told him something that he still profoundly remembers even today.

The Chef said ' You have witnessed me working on this simple dish for over an hour. This is the amount of time, passion and energy I dedicate to a single customer. Now you have to decide my 'employee engagement' score and not me.'

Need I say more!!!!!!!!!!!!

November 26, 2009

26/11/2008- Memories have not faded....

On 26/11/2008 I was comfortably sitting in my house in Chennai and was a mere silent spectator of the News TV shows which were providing live coverage of the massacre that swept Mumbai.

Hundreds of innocent people were held hostage by terrorists having horrific purpose in their minds, some of the prominent and iconic buildings in Mumbai were burning in fire and so was the soul of many Indians.

Even days and months after the incident my local train journeys to college, occasional dinners in luxury hotels and even violent scenes in movies used to remind me of what the hostages went through in the Taj hotel or Trident hotel or the railway station etc. I must admit the feeling was scary and sad.

It was a tragic incident which we would like to forget but we better not. We better not forget it for the sake of the brave NSG commandos, Mumbai police and many more people like the staffs in the hotels who redefined professionalism and patriotism.

Along with rage, remorse and hope this incident gave birth to Indian heroes for whom we feel extremely proud. No matter how much we thank them, it will still not be enough.

It also brought together political parties to brainstorm beyond party agendas and forget inter party rivalries for a little while in order to deeply think about National cause and security.

Many promises by political leaders were made and I hope that at least some of those strategies to tackle terrorism have been executed well enough.

We Indians have shown immense courage to bounce back and progress but in the midst of all these developments I realize that the best thing which has ever happened to me is the fact that I am born as an INDIAN.

However I feel a little silly and very ashamed that why did it take an incident like 26/11/2008 to occur in order to have this wonderful realization in me?

I dont have an answer. I can only say 'Jai Hind' from the bottom of my heart.

November 15, 2009

Jai Ho Sachin!!!!!!

20 years of glorious cricket, prodigious feats, perseverance that matches only those of a few and a simplicity that is contagious. My understanding about Sachin is limited to this and I am equally sure that whatever little I understand about Sachin is worthy of being a huge reservoir of learning.

Let me share my learning from this great cricketer-

  • Humbleness: I recently read one of his quote 'Statistically, I have passed Don Bradman but I can't be compared with him.' This speaks volumes about this man. Did Don Bradman score most number of runs, most number of hundreds, did he play for 20 long years????? Well the answer is 'No'. But does Don Bradman deserve this much respect from Sachin???? The answer is 'Yes!! Certainly'. A lot of players won't give a monkey toss to such legends but Sachin is different. He is 'rightfully' different. He is as great as Sir Don Bradman if not more. [I hope Sreesanth is reading this post ;-)].
  • Dream with the right purposeful action: He has often been quoted saying that it was his dream to become an Indian Cricketer. One of his special moment still remains his debut match against Pakistan where even his opponents found him promising. Wearing the Indian cap was not the end. It was a beginning to a journey that still delights fans like me 20 glorious years later.
  • Team spirit: Sachin played some of his best knocks under the captaincy of cricketers who joined the team much later like Saurav [my favorite], Dravid, Dhoni etc. but he still played his game with great passion and tenacity. He rates his 98 runs scored against Pakistan during the World Cup that was very instrumental in India's win as one of his best knocks. His individual interest never superseded his team's success. Team always came first.
  • Focus: Consider this quote 'I hate losing and cricket being my first love, once I enter the ground it's a different zone altogether and that hunger for winning is always there.' I feel he lives this statement every time he comes on the field. I am sure he would not have lived this statement without lazor sharp focus.
  • Do your best and leave the rest to God: Now consider this statement ' I just keep it simple. I watch the ball and play it on merit. I want to give my six hours of serious cricket on the ground and then take whatever the result.' In any profession, it is important not to complicate oneself with too many thoughts. Success in flawless execution lies in simplicity in thoughts and great belief in translating those thoughts into action. Sachin personifies that.
  • Right amount of preparation is the key: I always felt that Sachin's confidence comes from his impeccable and sincere preparation. This quote sums it up again ' At least with me, the match starts much, much earlier than the actual match.'
  • Don't complain, rather work on the next opportunity: There are number of times Sachin has been declared out for no valid reasons [most of them being LBWs, a few run outs and that catch by Jonty Rhodes]. But he came back stronger in the next few matches. He did complain but through his bat.
I wholeheartedly salute Sachin for teaching us professionalism through the beautiful game of cricket. He made it look even more beautiful.

Jai Ho Sachin!!!!!!!!

Note: Quotes and the photo was obtained from and

November 14, 2009

Daily Performance Reviews [ Does that sound CRAZY???]

During a workshop conducted by Mr David Wittenberg , CEO, The Innovation Workgroup, Delhi on 'Innovation in HR', he gave us a case study to solve. We were required to come out with innovative ways of performance appraisal in a given context.

I suggested 'Daily performance reviews'. It was well appreciated by David Sir and others in the audience.

Let me explain the ' Daily Performance appraisal' in a brief and simple manner:

  • Before the employees leave for the day, they must take a few minutes to record their day's performance in a HR dashboard.
  • Every day must begin with a brief review of the employee's performance as recorded in the HR dashboard the last day.
  • The team must be included in the discussion along with a manager/ member of leadership team.
  • Discuss in great detail the cumulative performance records from the HR dashboard quarterly in a private manner with the boss [manger /leadership team member]
  • Identify performance gaps and establish the road map.
  • Execute the needful sincerely.
I am sure a lot of you might argue that this might be too time consuming. Face it guys: YOU ARE COMPLETELY WRONG [I CAN BET!!!!!]

This will save time and energy like never before. Give it a sincere thought. And in case you implement this in your organization, do give me the credit and beyond [You decide what's beyond ;-)]

November 13, 2009

A long awaited post on 'Tanthra 2009'

Well!!! I am back after my exams [exams are not over though as one is scheduled for 23rd November].

I was one of the student delegate in 'TANTHRA 2009' organised by D G Vaishnav College, Department of HRM. I have always learnt a great deal from eminent speakers. This was no exception either.

Let me share a snapshot of my learning from various speakers during 'Tanthra 2009':

1. Mr Anand Rangachary, Managing Director, South Asia & Middle east, Frost & Sullivan,
  • It is extremely important for Business Leaders to have experience of working in emerging markets.
  • Technology is increasingly going to be a value lever for business.
  • HR should ensure that employees are retained for the sweet spot period [2-5 years].
  • HR's priority should be to foster the right culture of leadership,entrepreneurial spirit[within the company :-)] , innovation and ownership.
2. Mr G Ravindran, Managing Director, SHRM India, Mumbai:

  • HR professionals have to be path breakers who understand people, enable self discovery and shape talent for tomorrow's enterprises.
3. Mr Naveen Narayan, India Lead-Rewards, HR Tech, GS CIO, HR; Accenture:

  • HR professionals have to get into the role of 'credible activist'[might sound like a paradox but thats the way it should be]
4. Mr K Ganesh, VP-HR, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd, Chennai

  • Legal knowledge in HR practitioners is going to be of prime importance in the current scenario.
  • HR professionals should stop complaining about 'Visibility' because if you have the right ability and can translate it into value driven performance then visibility would be certain. [Visibility = Visible +Ability :-)]
5. Mr Joseph John, VP -HR, India & Middle East IT Businesses, Wipro Ltd, Bangalore.

  • The HR levers in today's business are: Managing cost, enhancing performance, Employee Engagement, Agility & capability development, HR service delivery excellence.
  • Focus areas for HR: Globalization & Change agent, Diversity management, Leadership development
6. Mr Ramkumar Rammoorthy, VP, Corporate Marketing & Research and Communication, CTS,

  • There is a shift from Labour arbitrage model to Intellectual model in todays workforce management.
  • Business needs to be driven by metrics. HR needs to embrace this.
7. Mr Selvam George, Chairman, 5 E Serpraise, Bangalore.

  • The 3 Ps of HRM: Passion, Path Making, Public Interest.
8. Mr Srikant Srinivasan, Corporate HR, Ashok Leyland, Chennai.

  • Priority areas for HR: Being process champions and change agents, build capability of working across cultures, how to deal with constant learning and unlearning.
9. Naresh Kumar Pinisetti, Director- People & Culture, Vestas Wind Technology India, Chennai.

  • Employee value proposition in Vestas: Respectable, Sustainable, Driven, Global, Learning.
  • A lot of focus needs to be given on employer branding, mentoring and global mobility, managing generation Y employees properly.
10. Mr Dharmarajan, Head HR- Buildings and Factories Operating Company, Larsen & Toubro, Chennai.

  • 3 Ps of business: People, Planet, Profit.
11. Mr C Mohan Kumar, Executive Director- HR, Nagarjuna Oil Corporation Ltd, Chennai.
  • 5 emerging tools in HR:
  1. Predictive workforce monitoring and strategic talent decision making.
  2. Flexible and anticipating talent sourcing.
  3. Customized and personalized records and communications.
  4. Distributed and distribution influenced leadership.
  5. Unified and compassionate culture.

12. Workshop on 'Innovation in HR practices' by David Wittenberg, CEO, Innovation Workgroup, Delhi

A few prerequisites to innovation :
  1. Assign people to innovate
  2. The customers know best, not the experts
  3. Test then build
  4. Validated benefits prior to launch.

November 7, 2009

'Unemployability' & not 'unemployment'.....

This article in Economics Times reveals that 75% Indian engineering students are unemployable. To me this news is both worrying as well as refreshing.

Worrying because there are engineering colleges mushrooming across the nation. I hope there is a purpose and direction to such endeavor. I am sure the 25% of the so called employable students would be good enough for corporate India's needs [taking into account it's youth population] but my concern lies in the fact that let the rest of the 75% wannabe engineers choose different career paths and not confuse their own future and the country's future . Or rather it's a strong message to Indian parents to look beyond engineering and giving the freedom to their kids to engineer their own career paths.

The article is refreshing because I have noticed that it focuses on 'unemployability' rather than 'unemployment' for a change....or rather 'genuine change'.......

PS: Have some informative posts pending because of exam time. Will blog regularly once exams are over [11th November if Chennai Monsoon takes a break]

October 26, 2009

The deadly sins of a HR strategist

I had an awesome opportunity to listen to Steven Miranda, Chief HR & Content Integration Officer , SHRM on last Saturday during the SHRM-MTHR HR event in Chennai. Steven shared his thoughts on addressing HR issues through simple yet profound ways of lateral thinking. The analogies and examples he used were inspired from geometry and mathematics which made us think even more objectively.

He then made a thought provoking presentation on the 7 deadly sins of HR strategists. Lets me share a few key inferences from that delightful presentation:

1. Do not take a position of advocacy without assuming accountability: He quoted Arnold Schwarzeneggar ' No one ever got muscles watching me lift wait'. That approrite quote explains it all. Need I say more!!!!

2. Forming an opinion without doing your homework: Seems very simple but lets face it that it's neglected most of the time.

3. Understand the business with a greater amount of sincerity as I insinuated from the presentation that it helps a great deal in execution and in making a strategy work.

4. First know what you want to change before being a change agent- Let's put the issues in a better and sincere perspective before being the change agent.

5. Do not get over romanticized by strategies- Give facts it's due consideration too.

6. The real need can be that of some 'genuine conversation' and 'context' while you are busy communicating.[My favorite mantra of the day]

7. a. Do not believe HR is simple when HR is hard ;-)
b. Do not believe HR is hard when HR is simple ;-)

October 24, 2009

My first 'Fire Walking' experience...

Today I had an ecstatic experience of walking on FIRE!!!! A BIG thanks to SHRM-MTHR HR event in Chennai where Priya Kumar gave one of the most inspiring speech i have ever come across till date.

Before I share the fire walking experience, let me share a quick lesson I learned from her talk:

  • Some of the best philosophies behind success are simple yet a little wierd but genuine.
  • Courage & self belief are the two ingredients in overcoming our fear.
  • Once a person overcomes his fear, he grows as a person in multi-dimensions ie emotional, spiritual, mental etc.
The fire walk experience started off with great amount of doubts [not really fear] and once I completed it successfully [did it twice :-)], it helped me to gain greater clarity. On further retrospection, my self belief became stronger [it has always been quite strong though :-)].

I am sure a fire walking experience can be transformational for people who have acute fear of fire.

A FIRE walk might also help a great deal in removing insecurities of getting FIREd from your company.

PS: I also bought a book titled 'I am another you' by Priya Kumar. Read a few random pages. Seems very impressive. I even got it autographed by Priya :-)

October 20, 2009

What makes Chennai MTHR Global-SHRM, India HR event so interesting and unique!!!!!

What’s compelling about the Event:
1. Event with true variety: Not a series of Seminars but variety – Interview (Dr. Khandelwal), Workshop (Steve Miranda), Leadership Training (Priya Kumar)
2. Speakers with a difference: Speakers who are not celebrities but are huge Achievers – transformed Banking (Dr. Khandelwal), redefined Space science (Dr. Bhattacharya), proved HR can become COO/ CEO (Pranesh Anthapur)
3. Engrossing Methodology for Learning: Speakers who engage through stories, not Gyan; thus participants draw their own learning without prescription!
4. View of Reality: Speakers discuss challenges and failure as objectively
5. An event where Fun and Networking never stops: Inclusive Group – HR Leaders of top Groups such as Murugappa, CSC, Deloitte, Verizon, Cognizant; Managers and executives; as well as Academicians and students of various B Schools all mingle without prejudice

6. Promoted by two of the largest HR Groups: SHRM with 3L members globally and MTHRG with 10K members in India, both not-for-profit and progressive
7. Participants combine Learning with experience and confidence: Fire-walking will reinforce that individuals can be Trailblazers
8. Where Learning does not stop: Creation of Learning Forum post Event
9. Partnership between Students and Industry: Watch 20 students volunteer and run the Event – never happens at a non-college Gathering
10. Finally, the Event will be high on Content, very little PPT and Jargon or technical stuff.

October 19, 2009

Chennai MTHR Global-SHRM, India Full Day Learning Event

I am quite excited to attend the Chennai MTHR Global – SHRM, India Full Day HR Learning Event on 24th October, 2009. Let me share further information about the event which was e-mailed to me today:

SHRM, India – World’s largest knowledge body for HR (, and Mumbai-based MTHR Global (, a seven-year , in-action, rapidly growing new-age HR movement in India present:

"Trailblazers: Stories for HR"

Chennai, Saturday 24th October 2009, 10 am onwards

At The (Adyar) Park Sheraton, T.T.K. Road,

Chennai 600018

Featuring pioneers in Business, Science, Technology, HR, Personal Transformation; and their exciting journeys in organizations and beyond…

Learn valuable lessons in Leadership and Management through Inspiring stories

“ Trailblazers: Stories for HR” is a Program that HR and other Management professionals, influencers in organizations, academicians and students cannot afford to miss.

Your big opportunity to catch up with interesting and innovative learning that “Trailblazers” from diverse fields will share - in their engaging stories of passion, positivity, and ambition!

Within the new pressured environment of organizations, post-downturn, there is a need and opportunity for the Human Resource function to play a critical part in helping organisations innovate and transform their own roles. In order to play these new roles, however, HR has to enjoy a real and perceived value that’s appreciated by Business Leaders and employees alike. SHRMI and MTHRG are organizing this Knowledge Event that will help glean important lessons in Innovation, Leadership, Management and people practices for participants. Learn from these stories - how you think differently, partner with business leaders , develop value of employees, and pitfalls to avoid!

Hear International Gurus such as:

1. Dr. Anil Khandelwal, Chairman, Baroda Pioneer Asset Company, ex CMD, Bank of Baroda and a pioneer of the HRD revolution in PSU Banks

2. Pranesh Anthapur, Chief Operating Officer of Yahoo! India R&D, formerly VP for Yahoo!'s international HR and HR mergers and acquisitions group in Sunnyvale

3. Dr. Sudip Bhattacharya, Scientist, TIFR, NASA Space Science Achievement Awardee , 2007 and credited with a latest Astronomical breakthrough

4. Steve Miranda, SPHR, GPHR, Chief HR and Content Integration Officer at Society for Human Resource Management

In an evening session - Priya Kumar, Corporate Trainer, motivational speaker,facilitator and authority on Personal Breakthrough will take participants through an amazingly powerful way To Ignite Change in Your Life - The Ultimate Fire walking Experience. Often people are afraid of showing and harnessing their own power and instead sabotage their own potential. Learn how to turn this around so that you can radiate the fullness of who you are. Learn how to motivate yourself for success in all areas of your life.

The MTHR Global - SHRM India Roadshow Series regaled audiences earlier at: Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Pune - featuring the best Learning and Networking through power-packed sessions by global leaders in HR, Business, Corporate Transformation, Wellness, Consulting, etc.

October 13, 2009

Employer Branding

I am doing a non research based project on 'Employer Branding' in my college. I must say it's very insightful and fun :-)

I have few inferences which I personally feel very strongly about. They are as follows:
  • Employer Branding should be leveraged as a Strategic Value Driver…
  • Focus more on the internal customers during the Employer Branding Process…
  • Relevance of Employer Branding will increase in post economic downturn situation…
  • Web 2.0 can be leveraged for Employer Branding purpose…
  • Creating a superior Employee Value Proposition is more important than marketing the company as a ‘Best Employer’…
  • Product/Service Branding should have a greater budget allocated than for Employer Branding…
  • Your former employees are the best ambassadors for your ‘Employer Branding’ process…
  • It makes sense to use TV commercials for ‘Employer Branding’ process…
  • The management philosophy and the internal culture influences the ‘Employer Branding’ process the most….
  • Employer Branding can be best used for Talent acquisition and retention…


October 5, 2009

Indian firms best in terms of employee satisfaction!

This article in rediff is bound to make the Indian HR fraternity feel very proud. According to the article " India ranks highest with 76 per cent on a country-level PEI [the Performance Excellence Index (PEI)] index of 14 countries. The index tracks employees' views of product and service quality and the firm's focus on customer service, quality, training and employee involvement."

Also it is observed " India ranks the highest in the country-level EEI[Employee Engagement Index] index as well, with a percentage of 73 per cent and is followed by Brazil (65 per cent). While Japan has the lowest score in this index at 36 percent."

I hope that the Indian employees do not become too satisfied and lack zeal in looking out for challenging assignments!!!!

September 28, 2009

Employee Engagement- A myth or reality????

I wonder if there is something known as 'active employee engagement'???

Well!!! the several surveys lead to the conclusion that it exists. Even Professor Google has numerous definitions for it.

But when I ask the meaning of 'active employee engagement' to a few senior professionals. They say that it's all about keeping the employees happy enough through recreational activities/fun activities'.

I do not endorse that at all. I will explain /justify that through an example. If an 'actively disengaged employee' gets to participate in your company's so called 'Disco Dandiya event'. Will it help the HR team to stop him from bad mouthing about the company or raise his work performance standards????

No!!!! most likely!!!!

He will get a good excuse to get away from his work and also have a social gathering which he can entertain through his bad mouthing about the company.

Let's apply common sense and change our approach towards employee engagement.

The purpose is to get the associates excited about their job and perform better through greater involvement and ownership.

Include the following in your employee engagement tool kit:

1. Superior Learning and Development.
2. Competitive Compensation.
3. Most importantly, foster a culture of 'goodness'. A place where the right virtues and values are recognized and appreciated genuinely.
4. Have some real 'fun' after getting the above three points right in place.


September 23, 2009

HR Symphony 2009- A detailed report

One of my classmate, Kaviya Suresh mailed me the following report which she documented during HR Symphony 2009:

HR – SYMPHONY 2009 – Documentation

HR Symphony was conducted by the Student Forum of the Department of MA Human Resource Management, Madras School of Social Work on Friday, September 18 at The Savera.

The theme for the symposium was HR Trends in 2010 and noted HR Professionals were a part of this event.

Inaugural Session:

The function was inaugurated by Ms. Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, MP, Rajya Sabha who lit the kuthuvilakku and delivered the inaugural address.

Speaking about key issues such as the impact of recession, she said “Corporate Social Responsibility lies in the hands of today’s youngsters. Be it managing waste or making a difference to the nation, fitting it into the corporate work schedule is the need of the hour. HR is where the human connection begins and ends.” Ms. Kanimozhi Karunanidhi affirmed that the women of the country are a potential resource that has not been discovred yet. The women are not being given the recognition they are entitled to. She stressed on the Women’s bill in the parliament should have been 50% and not 33%. She also stressed on the importance of learning the tamil language.

The Department Newsletter HURECANE was released by Ms. Kanimozhi Karunanidhi on the occasion.

The Principal of MSSW, Dr. Fathima Vasanth, gave the welcome address. The Secreatary SSER, Mr. C.D. Jose welcomed the gathering. Mrs. Jayanthi Peter, Head of the Department of MA HRM, gave a brief presentation about the department and its activities. Ms. Bhargavi, President of the Students Forum, spoke about the journey of HR Symphony so far.

Keynote Address:

The keynote addressee of HR Symphony 2009 was Mr. M Mahadevan, CMD, Oriental Cuisines Pvt. Ltd. He has actively involved in setting up Fast Food Business along with various promoters under partnership and management contract basis in India. He was also involved in setting up of the Copper Chimney restaurant in Chennai along with the co-promoter of the Bombay Copper Chimney restaurant group.

Apart from the above he has set up 42 Bakeries & Restaurants in USA, Middle East, Africa, Canada, France and London under his overseas operations unit Company

Mr. M Mahadevan has been in the business of hotelier and catering industry for over 25 years in various capacities.

He is the promoter of the Company Oriental Cuisines Private Limited. The company commenced operations with China Town and Hot Breads and he was instrumental in setting up a chain of Hot Bread units in India and abroad. The Indian operations were subsequently transferred to a separate division from 2001-02. OCPL owns and operates in various cities like Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kolkatta, Delhi, Trivendrum in the following Line of Business

10- Food Courts

12- Fine Dining Restaurants

20- Quick Service Restaurants

31- Bakeries

02- Lodging House

OCPL operates under the following brand names

China Town


Hotel Oriental Inn

Zara Tapas Bar

Noodle House

Wangs Kitchen

Kebab House

Just Juice.

French Loaf


Maple Leaf


Planet Yumm.- Food Court

In his address he said that the role of HR is on the upswing, recession or otherwise. He illustrated this with personal references to his 25-year journey and his recent switch to centralizing HR operations through his chain of eateries. Today his company has over 4000 employees, carefully hand picked by the HR Department. The HR Mantra of OPCL is “Motivate and Retain”. He believes in motivating his employees through proper training, briefings and monetary benefits. If the right amount of motivation given to the employees, they can be retained and will be loyal to the company. The Policy that the employees follow is to “Serve and save”.

Mr. M. Mahadevan was the recipient of the Best Entrepreneur award and was facilitated by the then Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Few of his quotes included “We don’t fish, but we teach people to fish” and “the future is for people with knowledge.”

Panel Discussion:

A panel discussion surrounding the theme of HR Symphony was moderated by Mr. Muthukumar Thanu, VP-HR, TAFE.

The panel members were Mr. R. Venkatanarayanan, GM HR, Rane Brakes Lining Ltd. Mr. R. Paneerchelvam, GM-HR, The India Cements Ltd., Mr. G. Udayakumar, CEO, Coremind Inc., Ms. Sharmila Gouthama, Founder, Green Books Consultancy and Ms. Kavita Shanmugam, Dean, Gemba School of HR.

The panel discussion centered on the theme of HR Symphony and the following were the opinions of the panelists with regard to HR Trends of 2010:

Muthukumar Thanu, Moderator:

  • More learnability leads to more employability.
  • The company must take good care of the External customer (client) and the internal customer (employee).
  • Resilience towards business should be developed
  • Importance of influencing employees

Paneerchelvam, Panelist:

  • Business literacy
  • Line of sight
  • To take up a tough role to get the best learning
  • How well a HR must facilitate the line managers to solve problems

Venkat, Panelist:

  • Scope to learn
  • Employee engagement
  • Creating trust
  • Humane peace

Kavitha, Panelist:

  • Achieving and creating a milestone
  • Understanding of the employees
  • Attitudes must be changed

Udayakumar, Panelist:

  • Giving time to oneself and the employee
  • To learn to grow
  • Importance of observation skills
  • Contributing in small ways for the growth of the company

Sharmila Gauthama, Panelist:

  • Ability to foresee trends
  • Ability to see how to contribute
  • Importance of social media

Research presentation

The research details, finding, inferences and results are attached at the end of the report.

Hurecane Presentation

A presentation of the Department Newsletter “Hurecane” was made by Mr. Vivek, I MA HRM.

Corporate Event

2 events “Ad-dict” and “Linked-In” were conducted for the Corporates present in the event. Ad-dict was a simple guessing game. An ad was played and the product or service has to be guessed by the audience. The winners of Ad-dict were

3rd place – Mr. Krishnan, Escalator

2nd place – Rangarajan, Neeyamo

1st place – Ms. Renu, Icon

Linked-in was a game to find the hidden link among three products or services. The winners of Linked-in were

3rd place – Pawan

2nd place – Avinash, Infosys

1st place – Rakesh Mohan, Neeyamo

Plenary Session

A plenary session on Corporate Goodness was handled by Mr. M. V. Cherian, DGM HR, National Head ONGC Schools, ONGC, which concluded the evening for present student and corporate force alike.

The contents of Mr. M.V. Cherian’s speech included how one should conduct oneself at the work place, the importance of communicating and expressing one’s thoughts and feelings in the right manner. He explained his concepts with personal anecdotes and how he handled worst situations in the easiest manner. He stressed on the importance of being diplomatic and the dangers associated with taking sides. Also, some of his important words were “the most imp thing in the word "organization" is 'I', if I organise myself, organisation will automatically organize itself. similarly in "management' the most important word is "me".”

The session concluded with Vote of Thanks by Ramya Radhakrishnan, Secretary HR Symphony and which was followed by dinner.